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The Whitsitt Controversy in the
Graves County Baptist Association, (KY)

By Wendell H. Rone, Sr.

Graves County Baptist Association Minutes, 1896

      What is called "The Whltsitt Controversy" had broken over the Southern Baptist Convention by 1896. Graves County Association went on record concerning this disturbing matter by means of a resolution, the author of which is not named, as follows:
"WHEREAS, Dr. W.H. Whitsitt, president and professor of church history in the Baptist Theological Seminary, of Louisville, Ky., has publically, through the secular press, published to the world and Pedobaptists in particular, that he has discovered satisfactory proof that the Baptists, prior to 1641, practiced sprinkling or pouring for baptism; and did not practice immersion until after the above date; and that immersion for baptism was introduced about that time as an innovation; and, whereas, the said Dr. Whitsitt further teaches and advises that a Baptist woman marrying a Pedobaptist husband should unite with his church, thereby making no difference between Pedobaptist churches and the Baptist church set up by the Lord Jesus Christ in person; and

"WHEREAS, Dr. Whitsitt's position as a professor of our Theological Seminary gives great weight to his heresies, and injury to the Baptist church the Scriptures say: 'Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.' Romans 16:17;

"Now, THEREFORE, we deem said Dr. W.H. Whitsitt to be totally unfit to occupy the high and exalted position he now occupies as president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary or even to be a member of the Baptist church with his heresies;

"RESOLVED, that we recommend his immediate removal by the Board and that this association withhold all financial aid and assistance or encouragement until his removal is effected."

      The above resolution was amended by directing the clerk to send a copy to the Western Recorder, with a request that it be published. It was also ordered that the course of the Western Recorder in opposing the Whitsitt Theory be approved, and Brethren W. M. Wilson and E. G. Roberts were appointed as a committee to inform the said paper of the approval.

Graves County Baptist Association Minutes, 1897

      Moderator W.F. Lowe, presented the following strong resolution, as the Whitsitt Controversy was still raging:

"WHEREAS, Dr. W.H. Whitsitt, President and Professor of Church History in the Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Ky., has published, secretly in the Independent (a Pedobaptist paper), and publicly in Johnson's Encyclopedia and Examiner, some articles, and in his book "A Question In Baptist History" statements that "prior to 1641 all Baptists practiced sprinkling or pouring for baptism"; and,

"WHEREAS, he further teaches that Baptist women marrying Pedobaptist husbands should unite with their husband's churches, thereby placing Baptist churches on a parity with other so-called churches; and,

"WHEREAS, his official position gives weight to his heresies; therefore,

"RESOLVED: (1) That we recommend and demand his immediate removal by the Board of Trustees; (2) That this association withdraw all financial support end advise our young men not to attend the Seminary until his removal is effected; (3) That we protest against our Baptist brethren giving their support in any way, by vote or otherwise, to Whitsittism; (4) That a copy of these resolutions be sent to Joshua Levering, President, Board of Trustees, Baltimore, Maryland."

      The above was unanimously adopted by the association by a rising vote and without any discussion whatever.

Graves County Baptist Association Minutes, 1898

     Since Dr. Whitsitt had resigned his position as President and Professor in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the controversy began to subside. Nevertheless, the association adopted unanimously the following resolutions:

"WHEREAS, Dr. W.H. Whitsitt, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has offered his resignation to take effect next June; therefore be it

"RESOLVED, (1) That we hail with pleasure the promised resignation of the doctor and we hope and trust that his resignation has no string to it; (2) That we do hereby petition the Trustees of the Seminary to accept his resignation and put an end to this unfortunate controversy, which has caused so much trouble; (3) That a copy of these resolutions be sent to Joshua Levering, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Western Recorder, and the American Baptist Flag for publication."


[From Wendell H. Rone, Sr., A Short History of the Graves County Baptist Association (KY), pp. 47-49, 1973. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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